If you look at the number of searches being done on prepping and food storage, there has been a massive uptick in people interested in the topic. People are afraid of the uncertainty in the world.
Political climates, supply chain issues, and natural disasters have people thinking about the future more than they have in the past. And historically, stores were not as big of an issue. People made their own clothes, canned their own food.
It seems to be a lost art. So, this new generation is now searching. They are trying to figure out how to do these things on their own. And the number one question I keep seeing on social media groups is this: What foods should I start stocking up on?
I touched on this topic a tiny bit in my last article. So, let’s dig in and look at 10 easy foods you can stock up on. These foods are easy to rotate, easy to store, and generally are liked by most people (or can be quickly substituted for those you do).
#1 – Rice
Rice is an easy grain to stockpile. White rice will last 3-5 years when stored in the plastic bag it came in. Place it in a mylar bag with an oxygen packet and it can last 30 or more years.
There are many varieties of rice, giving different textures and flavors. It pairs well with tons of dishes and is packed with calories. It is also simple to cook, needing only water.
Wild rice and brown rice do not last as long and tend to go rancid. But if you keep some on hand in your rotation that’s fine. If things do go downhill, they can be moved to the front of the line and used before they expire.
#2 – Pasta
This is another easy one to stock up on. Pasta comes in many different shapes and sizes and stores for a semi-long time. On average it should last for 1-2 years, with some being able to store considerably longer with the right conditions.
It is an easy food to throw into many different meals. Mixed with basic ingredients you can make simple dishes from it, and it also contains a decent number of calories.
#3 – Canned meat
When things go sideways, you will still want a source of protein. While you may have your own animals or can go fishing, canned meats make quick ‘on the go’ type meals. Easy to store and quick to grab in an emergency.
Commercially canned meats tend to last for 3-5 years, and in most cases should the cans be undented and intact, they can last easily double that. Obviously, you should be testing them before eating, but if you rotate your storage, expired cans should not be a problem.
#4 – Canned Vegetables
If for whatever reason you must leave your area, you will end up losing your garden spaces. This will take out your fresh vegetable supply. But you still need them in your diet.
Canned vegetables are an ok source of vitamins and minerals. You don’t get the same content as fresh from them since some get lost in the cooking process, but some are better than nothing.
Most cans will last 2-5 years. While they might be edible after that point, they will start to go off-flavor. Another thing to keep in mind, and this is the case with most canned goods, is the salt content. When I have the option, I try to buy the low salt varieties. This leaves me room to adjust while not going overkill on sodium.
#5 – Flour & Sugar
Staples in most baked goods, I recommend having these on hand. Not only is a loaf of bread super comforting, but bread can also be used as a vessel and a stress relief. Little kids (and even us adults) can find a little peace in the world through a cookie. When the world is upside down, making a treat with your kids can settle them and keep them close to you.
Flour has a shorter lifespan due to its ground nature and tends to go rancid inside of a year. Most places recommend a storage life of 6-8 months. This can be extended with oxygen packets and proper storage, but it should be rotated regularly.
Sugar on the other hand, when stored properly, can last forever. It is prone to moisture issues, however. A tiny bit of moisture can turn a bag of granulated sugar into a solid block in no time flat.
If you don’t do much baking now, you might want to either store less of these or start doing a little recreational baking. I of course prefer the latter. Not only will it be easier to use your food storage, but you will also learn a valuable skill for when things do go sideways.
#6 – Salt & Spices
The future will be pretty darn bland without salt and spices. When things do go sideways, making the best of foods that don’t taste great can be as simple as a little seasoning.
The shelf life on most spices averages 1 year. Being dried, many will not go bad in that time frame. But they do start to lose their potency and become bland. If you are worried about a spice being ok, try a little.
Salt on the other hand does not expire. It is a natural mineral that comes from the ground. But its uses go well beyond the basic seasoning needs.
The human body needs some sodium. Saline solution used in medical environments is often nothing more than distilled water mixed with an appropriate amount of salt. You can also use salt to cure meats, sanitize, clean, and even help with insect stings.
#7 – Dried beans
Beans are more than just a ‘magical fruit’ from our childhood. Dried beans contain both calories and protein. They are an easy solution to stretch your meat supplies further.
Lasting an average of 20-25 years when stored properly, they are easy to add to your food storage and cheap to get. If you watch for sales, a pound of beans can go for as little as $0.75 that I saw recently. Watch the clearance shelves and you might even get them for cheaper than that.
Beans do add some cooking and prep time, with most needing a good overnight soak or a trip through a pressure cooker (an instant pot or manual pressure cooker work well here). Once prepared, you can add them to many meals. The combinations are only limited by your imagination.
Beans also come in a canned variety. Canned will not last as long and should be rotated more regularly. I recommend keeping some of both on hand. Canned are good for quick use in an emergency. Dried are good for the long haul.
And if you are worried about the gas, add a small amount of prepared mustard to your dish to help cut that effect.
#8 – Prepared packaged foods
Think spaghetti sauce, canned baked beans, canned beef stew, etc. Shelf-stable foods.
If your family is used to eating these types of items, then you should store some. I would of course recommend learning how to make your own, and even self-can if you feel up to the task. But in a short-term emergency, they can help keep your family feeling more normal.
The shelf life on these items tends to be much shorter, so special attention needs to be made to rotate them in your regular meals.
#9 – Dried & canned fruits
Going right along with vegetables, fruits are essential. They contain tons of nutrients to help your body function daily. They also contain natural sugars which can help keep you moving as an alternate fuel source for your body when meats and other proteins are low.
With so many types and storage methods, they can last anywhere from days (fresh) to years (dried). Plan on keeping a variety of types of fruits, and different forms of them. For example, we keep dried apple slices, apple sauce, apple butter, and fresh apples on hand.
Pick those things your family likes. Try each different storage method too. Dried peaches have a different flavor and texture than fresh, or even canned. Never be afraid to try your food storage items before you commit to long-term storage of them.
#10 – Snacks & treats
You might think this section is kind of dumb. Who needs snacks and treats during an emergency? But if you have kids, then keeping them calm is going to be very hard when their whole world goes upside down.
Having snacks or little goodies to give them while you pack the car or keep them calm while hunkered down during a storm is important. Snacks can also be useful in providing a short burst of energy while working hard.
Candies such as a Snickers bar contain small amounts of proteins in addition to sugars and can quickly help someone balance their blood sugar. You never know what will come in handy in an emergency.
I cannot stress enough to plan your food storage around those things that your family eats. And then regularly rotate the storage into use. Check out this article for my easy method of doing this.
Think about all the things that you eat daily and what would happen if you no longer had those foods. Could they be replaced by homemade items? Do you know how to cook those homemade items?
If the answer to those questions is no, then I recommend you start today. Add a home-cooked meal to your menu. Look at what you can store and try a new recipe that uses those things (such as dried beans). Try new skills. Being prepared is more than just having the ‘stuff’ on hand. It is knowing how to use it when the time comes.
What are your favorite things to add to your food storage? I would love to know in the comments below.